Roberts Radio has been producing radios for over 80 years. Initially, the company only traded in the United Kingdom, but now exports worldwide. The company was initially based in central London, near Oxford Circus and then at Rathbone Place, but moved to East Molesey in 1941. Roberts Radio Co. Ltd., 35-37 Creek Rd., East Molesey was a small, family-run company with just 9 employees, in East Molesey, Surrey.
Harry Roberts founded the Roberts Radio Company in partnership with Leslie Bidmead in 1932, just 10 years after the BBC had begun daily transmissions. They financed the down payment on a small factory, by selling Bidmead’s motorbike. The two men cemented their partnership when they
married sisters Doris and Elsie Hayward.
In that first year, turnover was just three receivers a week; but “listening in” to the wireless fast became a social and cultural phenomenon. Radios were still large, cumbersome and expensive commodities, which had to be painstakingly hand-soldered and wired. But the company’s credo was “make a top-quality product and sell it to top-quality customers”.
In the Sixties, the arrival of the mass-produced circuit board did away with the need for each set to be hand-wired – and changed the way radios were produced for ever. In 1962, the company had a purpose-built factory constructed in West Molesey.
The company has been granted three Royal warrants in its own right, and one via the purchase of Dynatron Radio Ltd The Roberts Radio Company is one of the few remaining names from the heyday of the British electronics industry. Roberts established a reputation for quality, as well as producing some outrageously expensive radios in solid gold and mink covered cases.
Roberts quickly established a reputation for quality, selling sets to top stores such as Harrods and Army and Navy. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, bought a Roberts Radio for Princess Elizabeth (now HM The Queen) and later for herself. Roberts won the Royal Warrant in 1955, which it still holds today. The original ‘Revival’ radio – the R66 – was created by Harry Roberts.
It was inspired by the design of a handbag owned by his wife Another link Roberts Radio had with HM The Queen was provided from an unusual source. Radio sets with VHF aerials were banned in HM Prisons, as the aerial could be used as a weapon. It was an obvious choice for the discerning prisoner!